I’m Ready for Anything, Eventually

The Ins and Outs of Planning Ahead

I designed and stitched this needlepoint myself about twenty years ago. Want to hear something ironic about it? I created it specifically for a certain spot on my breakfast room wall that ended up being too narrow to accommodate it once the silly thing was finished and framed. Oh sure, it would have been easy enough to make the canvas smaller to start with, or to design it vertically instead of horizontally, but – and here comes the ironic part – doing so would have required me to... Anyone? Anyone? (Hint: the answer is staring you right in the face.) That’s right, it would have required me to PLAN AHEAD!

I don’t know why I have such a hard time with this concept. Maybe it’s because planning ahead involves logical thinking (which I’m not good at), plus the ability to anticipate problems (ditto), not to mention time management (major ditto.) Case in point, when I grocery shop I start in the produce section and end up in household cleaners, which means I’m stacking a 20-lb. box of laundry detergent on top of my bananas. And if I ever designed a house it would be just like me to put in a fabulous spiral staircase, only to discover on move-in day that the king-sized mattress can’t be maneuvered up to the 2nd floor master bedroom. As for my lousy time management skills, check this out:

Two months ago I got an e-mail from one of my closest friends from Texas, saying she and her husband wanted to come and see us. Naturally Marc and I were delighted and immediately scheduled the visit – which took place just last weekend. That means I had more than seven weeks to prepare for their arrival. Seven weeks. Would you like to know what was I doing just fifteen minutes before time to leave for the airport to meet their flight? I was in the shower frantically scrubbing the tile floor with my feet as I shampooed my hair with my hands. It wasn’t just that I had waited until the last minute to do what needed to be done (although any moron could see that I had). It was the fact that two hours earlier, with both my shower and my hair still seriously icky, and my houseguests’ flight literally winging its way toward Miami, I had suddenly decided to re-caulk the bathtub and assemble a new bookcase for the study.

Why am I telling you all this? Because it’ll help you understand the reason I got so rattled this morning when I read this verse while doing my Bible study, "You must also be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” (Luke 12:40) I mean, really. Don’t I have enough trouble being ready when I know the precise moment my guests are going to arrive? How on earth am I supposed to be ready when I don’t have the foggiest clue when someone is going to get here?

When I hear the words "be ready” the first thing that pops into my mind is being ready for company, and immediately my inner perfectionist starts barking out orders that my house be absolutely spotless (or at least the parts that show.) My husband, on the other hand, views readiness in hurricane terms, as in shutters up, pantry stocked, water stored, computers backed up and flashlights loaded. (What else would you expect from a former Scoutmaster?) But maybe the real truth lies in a combination of both ideas.

What if I knew the exact day and time Jesus was going to arrive? How would I like Him to find me? I suppose from the hostess side I’d want my mind to be clean, and my heart to display an atmosphere of warmth and hospitality. I can’t do that without clearing out the garbage and focusing on things like compassion and serving others. And from the Scoutmaster side I’d want to be prepared, which means I need to shutter myself against the winds of temptation, and supply myself with plenty of nourishing scriptures.

The thing is, these goals can’t be accomplished overnight. I mean let's face it, I’ve got some pretty stubborn habits to break, not to mention a bit of catching up to do on those Bible verses. But I also know it can be done.

All I have to do is… Anyone? Anyone? That’s right. All I have to do is PLAN AHEAD.

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